CSRS — How Much, When and to Whom

Many folks with questions for me on the CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) just need the basics … at least they need to know the rules of the system before they even know if they have a specialized question to ask.

Here’s one of the best links available on line for the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) . It’s concise, clear and best of all it comes from an unimpeachable source … the Office Of Personnel Management (OPM).  As always, le me know about questions you have that you can’t find in the guide.. 

Remember, you may always leave a comment here on the blog, you can email me: davestarr (at) gmail (dot) com or you can call me at my US number, 1-719-423-8872.


  1. Am wondering if there is a set number of days//months//etc required to set a retirement date.

    I am 56 years old and eligible to retire. Want to keep my health insurance as I start a new job with the State of Texas. I work in the Dallas VA Homeless Dom.

    119 Marvin Gardens
    Waxahachie TX 75165

    • @Paul Richard Strange, Sr.: I assume you are talking about retirement from Federal Service, Paul? If so, the answer is no. Although OPM makes a big deal out of planning 5 years before, 1 year before, 6 months before, etc., the law allows you to retire instantly. If you are sure you know you want to go, just go to your servicing personnel office and file the application. It’s always best to actually go on the last working day of a month or in the first three days of a month in order to get credit for the last full month served, but retirement by choice is still a federal employee’s right once qualified.

      Keeping your FEHB health plan in retirement is also your right, should not be an issue.

      One of my best retirement war stories involved a senior civilian leader I worked with extensively on some Air Force projects. We attended a meeting one afternoon where a senior Air Force officer lost his temper and becuase very profane and abusive about my senior friend and Air Force civilian employees in general.

      My friend stood up, said to the Colonel, “Others in the room may chose to sit and listen to that unprofessional tirade,, colonel, I chose not to,”.

      He turned on his heel, walked out the door and went directly to Civilian personnel. Was retied that same afternoon.

      Good luck with yours.

  2. I am a csrs retiree,and divorced ten years ago,ipay my ex spouse half my annuity,and i no longer work do to health problems. I am considered in the poverty level and would like to know will i have to pay her this money for the rest of my life. she has remarried four years ago,she works making good money and the same with her new husband. do i have any recourse to stop this one sided craziness. thanks

    • @Richard Coppola: Hello Richard. Sorry to hear of your situation. I too pay nearly half my CSRS retirement to my ex-wife. Under the law, her share is considered her property becuase it represents the time we were married during the years I was earning my CSRS annuity. The law in most states considers that the spouse of a retiree contributes to the earning of the retirement income by virtue of being married and supporting the employee as wife, mother of children and in general making a home during those years.

      Of course many retirees won’t agree with that reasoning, but better to accept the root cause of why spouses are normally granted this sort of share. I have no idea of the circumstances of your divorce, so have no way to make even a rough judgment of the validity of her claim. When you say “you” pay her, does that mean you actually write her a check or does she receive the money from OPM as part of a court order granting her the share?

      If she is being paid via a court order, the only recourse I know of would be to go back to the court which granted it and present a case for reconsideration. You certainly need an attorney and you need an attorney intimately familiar with the law regarding CSRS and FERS divorce divisions of property. Wish I could offer some ‘magic solution’ but I don’t know of any. The “going in” position of the court is likely to be, “What we decided at the time was an equitable distribution of the marital property.” It will be your attorney’s job to try to prove that the distribution is no longer equitable. Best of luck to you, sir.

      By the way, have you tried directly negotiating a better arrangement with your ex? Far as I can see, worst she could say is “no”, and going back to court may result in a ‘no’ also, but cost thousands to get.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.